A modern office employee. The name derives from workplace dress codes in the mid-20th Century; factory laborers typically wore blue work shirts, jumpsuits, or other uniforms, while managers and technical or professional staff wore white business shirts and ties.
As office machinery such as the typewriter, adding machine, mimeograph etc. became available starting in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, clerical workers began shifting their skill sets from the Clerk to the modern White Collar Worker. In particular, many women joined the workforce, though they tended to be stuck in the lower-ranked and lower-paying "pink collar" office jobs. Women's roles in the office both in real life and media have improved over the decades.
The natural habitat of the White Collar Worker is the office cubicle. Their natural enemies include bosses of all kinds except "benevolent" and their more obnoxious co-workers. As for their work...well, white collar jobs are kind of boring to look at most of the time, and one set of paperwork looks much like another. So the details of the work are usually not examined closely. Indeed, often the exact position or job description of the characters will deliberately be left vague. This gives greater plot flexibility, especially when the Pointy-Haired Boss decides to give the hero some wacky project that would seem to have little to do with the job, normally.
- The weather reporter in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is fed up with his job.
"And now that that's all done with, please enjoy this song from Lonestar, while I sit in my little cubicle, only being paid minimum wage to tell you ungrateful fools this stuff!"
- Wheatley from Portal 2 already was this, albeit in AI form, but the fanfic Blue Sky took it to the next level and got him to look the part, too.
- Most of the cast of 9 to 5. The heroines are stuck in "pink-collar" positions.
- Office Space; the characters are mostly computer programmers.
- The narrator in Fight Club, though he actually goes into detail about his job and is seen doing it.
- Mr. Incredible becomes one of these after the Super Registration Act. He hates it there.
- Italian Black Comedy movie series Fantozzi has the titular Butt-Monkey-slash-Chew Toy protagonist, Ugo Fantozzi, showing very clearly to be one, to the point the movie series is mostly known in English languages as White Collar Blues.
- The 2010 independent film Drones, where office employees are frequently compared to bees (hence the title). The main character finds out that several of his coworkers are aliens working undercover.
- Working Girl is a perfect example of this trope.
- The Crowd : A very early film example, showing the main character at his desk, with some vaguely defined job that involves scribbling numbers in a ledger.
- Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter appears to be something in middle management rather than a mere drone, and probably not a very good one, but close enough; the line between the two sometimes gets a bit blurry anyway.
- Adam Cassidy in Paranoia works as one in the start of the book, with his injustice at the company executive's excesses and his endless boredom causing him to pull off a huge prank that puts him into the position of being blackmailed for the rest of the book to do the CEO's bidding and engage in corporate espionage.
- The protagonist of The Laundry Files, as lampshaded on the (original) cover of The Atrocity Archives. Bob Howard volunteers for dangerous active service work just to escape it. As his cover job is in IT service, he still has to put in his hours though.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- In "Christmas Show", the much harassed woman in charge of gift exchanges has an office to herself. Over the course of the episode, Miss Brooks, Mr. Conklin and Mr. Boynton repeatedly pay her a visit.
- In "Easter Outfit", Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton, Walter Denton and Mr. Conklin all take temporary employment at the Board of Education offices.
- Most of the cast of The Office, both British and American versions. Unlike some of the other examples here, we do know Wernham-Hogg/Dunder Mifflin's business: they sell paper.
- For the first seven years of Friends, Chandler Bing worked an unstated office job at an unknown company. Even Rachel and Monica don't know what he does. Whatever it was, he was important enough to have his own office.
- He started (in the first season) in a cubicle processing data related to resource utilization, and was soon promoted to a supervisory position in the same company and department.
- Drew Carey and his co-workers on his show.
- That '70s Show had an episode in which Kelso's father attempts to explain precisely what his job entails. It becomes depressingly evident that even he isn't sure anymore.
- The cast of the Fred Savage show Working, which not only left the workers' positions and duties vague, but never explained what, if anything, the company did.
- Better Off Ted has Veridian Dynamics, which appears to do or own another company that does almost anything. Most of the characters in the show work in the research and development department though.
- In the Italian Black Comedy Work Com Caméra Café, many characters are borderline workaholics, with Silvano being the most obvious example.
- Barney Stintson in How I Met Your Mother, whose job involves wearing a snazzy suit, sitting in an office (with an en-suite bathroom!), and sometimes threatening war with North Korea. In the final season it is revealed that his actual job is being the company's patsy. His signature is on all the company documents and when the FBI inevitably starts investigating the company's incredibly illegal dealings, Barney will be framed as the mastermind of it all. Subverted, because Barney is well aware of this, and has actually been working with the Feds as a plan to get revenge on the jerk who stole his girlfriend.
- Malcolm in the Middle: All that's known about Hal's job is that he could be replaced easily. One episode reveals he's skipped work every Friday for five years and no one ever noticed.
- The music video to "Voices" by Disturbed is based around somebody in such a position ready to snap, partially because of the voices telling him to.
- Similarly, the video to "Zombie Autopilot" by Unearth follows such a person through his day, as he slowly comes undone while realizing that he's basically a white collar zombie. The video eventually climaxes with him throwing a file folder at his boss (whom he briefly sees as a demon) and quitting his job...before waking up on the subway and dismissing the nightmare he's just had.
- Ditto Dilbert. He's also a software engineer.
- Stardew Valley starts off with the player character as one of these at Joja Corporation. Soon growing weary of office cubicle work life, you quit your job to seek a new life at your grandfather's old farm.
- The Stanley Parable's protagonist could be considered this trope boiled down to its utmost roots, as his job literally consists of pushing buttons on a computer. At least, before everyone disappears, and everything gets weirder from there...
- The father of the family in Weesh; another one who's lost track of what precisely it is he does.
- Terry in Uncommon Animals. Her cubicle is exceptionally bare.
- Nebula: Mercury dresses like one, despite being in space; What, Exactly, Is His Job? is in full force, making unclear what exactly his job is, apart from hanging around Sun and trying to boss everyone else around.
- The Jetsons: George Jetson.
- Edward Borman in The Mercury Men.